Abbott Miller

Graphic Designer / United States / Pentagram

Abbott Miller’s Book List

For Designers & Books I decided to focus on books that were influential on me as a student: as I get older, I realize that they continue to influence the way I think about art, architecture, and design.

15 books
Gregory Ulmer

This book connected Derrida to art and design in an interesting way.

Barbara Miller Lane

Miller Lane provides a good look at the intersection of politics and architecture and how the Nazi Party responded to modernism.

John Willett

A fantastic, concise cultural history that situates the emergence of German modernism. Good maps, timelines, and layout: doles out nice illustrations along the way.

Aldo Rossi

An author whose sense of ennui and melancholy connected my younger interest in surrealism with my burgeoning interest in architecture.

Gillian Naylor

This book initiated my own research into the Bauhaus and set off a long engagement with modernist ideas and contradictions.

Hollis Frampton

Containing incredibly smart essays by a filmmaker whose work I came to know and love in school, this book was an important example of an artist who used his work and his writing to explore ideas in the history of film and photography. I mostly loved this book because of how comfortably Frampton sat on both the creative and analytical sides of the desk.

Michel Foucault

Foucault's book offered a radically new way of thinking about modernity. I was obsessed with this book and it became the “gateway” book to the entire Foucault corpus: classifications, prison, death, sexuality, etc.

Carl E. Schorske

Brisk survey of the cultural setting in which Viennese modernism took hold: everything about this book comes to life: architecture, city planning, psychoanalysis, music, literature, painting. A brilliant model of cultural history.

Elizabeth Burris-Meyer

The author ingeniously distills the history of art into 30 amazing color sets such as “Indian,” or “Italian Renaissance,” and provides a one-page narrative for each. The “system” is so disarmingly broad and intuitive, but the magic of the book is that the colors the author chooses are mind-blowingly good. Small silk-screen chips show the color in proportionate quantities. Amazing. If you see this book at any price, buy it. (She did another volume, c. 1948, called Modern Color Guide, which takes on specific and inventive schemes for contemporary interiors.)

Jed Rasula Editor
Steve McCaffery Editor

This is a sort of perverse “coffee-table” book in that it is a serious study of ways in which language and thought have been visualized. For me it functions to kickstart thinking about type, structure, and spatial aspects of layout. It has radical experiments, vanished languages, and truly strange “proposals” for how thought can be transmitted visually. Unusual and inspiring.

Marshall McLuhan
Quentin Fiore

A model of design and writing, and an exceptional case study of a partnership between a public intellectual and a great designer.

Roland Barthes

A book that opened hundreds of doors to reading design, art, music, and film with the eye of an anthropologist and an art critic. Barthes infused everything else I wrote and thought about afterward.

Rosalind Krauss

Essays on the history of modernism and photography that shaped much of my thinking about art, design, and theory. Krauss was an incredible teacher but an even better writer—incredibly sophisticated, cerebral, stylish, and original. This book was foundational for me.

Wallace Stevens

My favorite poet.

Sigmund Freud

The power of humor and the revelation of incidental details: an endlessly interesting book, even if almost every “joke” or example is terribly unfunny. You had to be there, I guess, and this book takes you there, at the birth of the insight.

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